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“Have you enjoyed your money?” And other financial planning questions you should ask yourself in 2021

By Paul Parnell

Photo of Paul Parnell

“Have you enjoyed your money?” This is a question I often ask my clients. Too often I see investors who work and save diligently for a lifetime and yet never actually enjoy the fruits of their labor.  

After a year of life in a pandemic, I’m seeing a shift, and more families are taking time to reevaluate their priorities in terms of how they truly want to spend their time and money. Here are some common questions and points of consideration to reflect on for your personal financial plan.

Have you reevaluated any major priorities?

For example, I have clients say they plan to travel more once things open again. Some desire to move closer to family, to downsize, to retire earlier. Sadly, there have been many stark reminders this year that life is short, and our health is never guaranteed.  I see families that are more reflective on leaving a legacy and making significant changes to their trusts to protect their assets.

Any effective financial plan must take these elements into consideration.

Did the pandemic impact your job or career?

Early retirement, a career change, or job loss means impact to employee benefits that are tied to your long-term goals.

Specifically, Cobra was extended again – for at least another 6 months beyond May. This offers the unemployed more time to find new work and maintain their healthcare benefits – an important component of your financial plan. Accordingly, if you’ve lost your job, you may need to evaluate whether or not you can benefit from rolling your 401K over to an individual retirement account.

Volatility in the markets over the last year impacted executive compensation plans. It’s important to reevaluate your stock options, RSUs, or any additional incentives for consequences.

I am also seeing that, for people who have retained their jobs, many have accumulated more cash reserves than normal. If your cash reserve is beyond the recommended 3-6 months of expenses, you should consider shifting some to longer term investments.

Has your risk tolerance changed?

Risk tolerance often changes when you go through major life events. I’ve heard clients say, “Life too short and I want to retire early,” and they are willing to buckle down and live on less in retirement.

Meet with your financial planner and evaluate your current risk tolerance. Is it enough to maintain a high probability of your assets lasting? Cash and more conservative investments like CD’s aren’t paying much of anything these days. With interest rates so low, and plans for new economic expansion, historically this is a time to be more aggressive. Ensure that your portfolio is balanced to meet your future goals.

How might taxes impact your financial plan?

There are likely some big tax law changes coming over the next couple years. This is the time to be looking at tax shelters and maximizing your retirement plans, if you can. At Ballast Advisors, we also have an affiliated CPA practice, so this is a comprehensive service we may offer our clients.  We work with our client’s other advisors—including accountants, attorneys, and bankers—to ensure the seamless execution of your plan.

Capital Gains tax are likely to increase to historical levels, and this is something to be planning for earlier than perhaps you had planned. It’s something to be watching very carefully.

Questions and Answers

Any successful investment strategy requires getting to know our clients- to understand their dreams, goals and create a complete picture of their financial situation. 

Anytime you have major life change or shift priorities – be they personal or financial –your financial plan needs to reflect those changes. It is equally important to update your estate plan. It’s important to consult with your financial professionals to ensure that you are on track to meet your goals, no matter what life brings.

Whatever your passion is – from travel to grandkids – make sure you build in a plan to enjoy your money.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES The opinions expressed herein are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC and are subject to change without notice.  Past performance is not indicative of future results. Nothing contained herein is an offer to purchase or sell any product. This material is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Ballast Advisors reserve the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs.

 The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice. Ballast Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about the firm, including its services, strategies, and fees can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available without charge upon request.

A Retirement Income Roadmap for Women

It’s important for you to be involved in the retirement income planning process even if you’re married. While you may plan to be married forever, many women end up single at some point in their lives due to divorce or death of a spouse. All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there can be no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful.

More women are working and taking charge of their own retirement planning than ever before. What does retirement mean to you? Do you dream of traveling? Pursuing a hobby? Volunteering your time, or starting a new career or business? Simply enjoying more time with your grandchildren? Whatever your goal, you’ll need a retirement income plan that’s designed to support the retirement lifestyle that you envision, and minimize the risk that you’ll outlive your savings.

When will you retire?

Establishing a target age is important, because when you retire will significantly affect how much you need to save. For example, if you retire early at age 55 as opposed to waiting until age 67, you’ll shorten the time you have to accumulate funds by 12 years, and you’ll increase the number of years that you’ll be living off of your retirement savings. Also consider:

• The longer you delay retirement, the longer you can build up tax-deferred funds in your IRAs and employer-sponsored plans such as 401(k)s, or accrue benefits in a traditional pension plan if you’re lucky enough to be covered by one.

• Medicare generally doesn’t start until you’re 65. Does your employer provide post-retirement medical benefits? Are you eligible for the coverage if you retire early? Do you have health insurance coverage through your spouse’s employer? If not, you may have to look into COBRA or a private individual policy — which could be expensive.

• You can begin receiving your Social Security retirement benefit as early as age 62. However, your benefit may be 25% to 30% less than if you waited until full retirement age. Conversely, if you delay retirement past full retirement age, you may be able to increase your Social Security retirement benefit.

• If you work part-time during retirement, you’ll be earning money and relying less on your retirement savings, leaving more of your savings to potentially grow for the future (and you may also have access to affordable health care).

• If you’re married, and you and your spouse are both employed and nearing retirement age, think about staggering your retirements. If one spouse is earning significantly more than the other, then it usually makes sense for that spouse to continue to work in order to maximize current income and ease the financial transition into retirement.

How long will retirement last?

We all hope to live to an old age, but a longer life means that you’ll have even more years of retirement to fund. The problem is particularly acute for women, who generally live longer than men. To guard against the risk of outliving your savings, you’ll need to estimate your life expectancy. You can use government statistics, life insurance tables, or life expectancy calculators to get a reasonable estimate of how long you’ll live. Experts base these estimates on your age, gender, race, health, lifestyle, occupation, and family history. But remember, these are just estimates. There’s no way to predict how long you’ll actually live, but with life expectancies on the rise, it’s probably best to assume you’ll live longer than you expect.

Project your retirement expenses

Once you know when your retirement will likely start, how long it may last, and the type of retirement lifestyle you want, it’s time to estimate the amount of money you’ll need to make it all happen. One of the biggest retirement planning mistakes you can make is to underestimate the amount you’ll need to save by the time you retire. It’s often repeated that you’ll need 70% to 80% of your pre-retirement income after you retire. However, the problem with this approach is that it doesn’t account for your specific situation. Focus on your actual expenses today and think about whether they’ll stay the same, increase, decrease, or even disappear by the time you retire. While some expenses may disappear, like a mortgage or costs for commuting to and from work, other expenses, such as health care and insurance, may increase as you age. If travel or hobby activities are going to be part of your retirement, be sure to factor in these costs as well. And don’t forget to take into account the potential impact of inflation and taxes.

Identify your sources of income

Once you have an idea of your retirement income needs, your next step is to assess how prepared you (or you and your spouse) are to meet those needs. In other words, what sources of retirement income will be available to you? Your employer may offer a traditional pension that will pay you monthly benefits. In addition, you can likely count on Social Security to provide a portion of your retirement income. Other sources of retirement income may include a 401(k) or other retirement plan, IRAs, annuities, and other investments. The amount of income you receive from those sources will depend on the amount you invest, the rate of investment return, and other factors. Finally, if you plan to work during retirement, your earnings will be another source of income.

When you compare your projected expenses to your anticipated sources of retirement income, you may find that you won’t have enough income to meet your needs and goals. Closing this difference, or “gap,” is an important part of your retirement income plan. In general, if you face a shortfall, you’ll have five options: save more now, delay retirement or work during retirement, try to increase the earnings on your retirement assets, find new sources of retirement income, or plan to spend less during retirement.

A 65-year-old woman is expected to live another 20.8 years, compared with 19.6 years for a man. (Source: NCHS Data Brief, Number 395, December 2020) *Generally, annuity contracts have fees and expenses, limitations, exclusions, holding periods, termination provisions, and terms for keeping the annuity in force. Most annuities have surrender charges that are assessed if the contract owner surrenders the annuity

Transitioning into retirement

Even after that special day comes, you’ll still have work to do. You’ll need to carefully manage your assets so that your retirement savings will last as long as you need them to.

• Review your portfolio regularly. Traditional wisdom holds that retirees should value the safety of their principal above all else. For this reason, some people shift their investment portfolio to fixed income investments, such as bonds and money market accounts, as they enter retirement. The problem with this approach is that you’ll effectively lose purchasing power if the return on your investments doesn’t keep up with inflation. While it generally makes sense for your portfolio to become progressively more conservative as you grow older, it may be wise to consider maintaining at least a portion in growth investments.

• Spend wisely. You want to be careful not to spend too much too soon. This can be a great temptation, particularly early in retirement. A good guideline is to make sure your annual withdrawal rate isn’t greater than 4% to 6% of your portfolio. (The appropriate percentage for you will depend on a number of factors, including the length of your payout period and your portfolio’s asset allocation.) Remember that if you whittle away your principal too quickly, you may not be able to earn enough on the remaining principal to carry you through the later years.

Understand your retirement plan distribution options. Most pension plans pay benefits in the form of an annuity. If you’re married, you generally must choose between a higher retirement benefit that ends when your spouse dies, or a smaller benefit that continues in whole or in part to the surviving spouse. A financial professional can help you with this difficult, but important, decision.

• Consider which assets to use first. For many retirees, the answer is simple in theory: withdraw money from taxable accounts first, then tax-deferred accounts, and lastly, tax-free accounts. By using your tax-favored accounts last and avoiding taxes as long as possible, you’ll keep more of your retirement dollars working for you. However, this approach isn’t right for everyone. And don’t forget to plan for required distributions. You must generally begin taking minimum distributions from employer retirement plans and traditional IRAs when you reach age 72, whether you need them or not. Plan to spend these dollars first in retirement.

Consider purchasing an immediate annuity. Annuities are able to offer something unique — a guaranteed income stream for the rest of your life or for the combined lives of you and your spouse (although that guarantee is subject to the claims-paying ability and financial strength of the issuer). The obvious advantage in the context of retirement income planning is that you can use an annuity to lock in a predictable annual income stream, not subject to investment risk, that you can’t outlive.*

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to retirement income planning. A financial professional can review your circumstances, help you sort through your options, and help develop a plan that’s right for you.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2021

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES The opinions expressed herein are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC and are subject to change without notice. The third-party material presented is derived from sources Ballast Advisors consider to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Nothing contained herein is an offer to purchase or sell any product. This material is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Ballast Advisors reserve the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs. Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice. Ballast Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about the firm, including its services, strategies, and fees can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available without charge upon request.

How Do Presidential Elections Impact The Stock Market?

If there was one word for 2020, it very well might be “uncertainty” — rarely a positive noun in the investment world.  Global pandemic aside, a presidential election is traditionally a time for some uncertainty among investors to the degree they believe a president’s party or policies can shift the market.

However, data suggests that degree of influence an election result has on the market is not always so clear. There have been 17 presidential elections since 1950, and each comes with unique variables that may impact market performance.  Collecting and organizing the data from these elections is made easier using YCharts, a leading research firm for financial advisors based in Chicago, IL. “YCharts allows Ballast Advisors to collect historical data, like election data, export it to an Excel spreadsheet for analysis and detecting trends, and present it in a way that is easy to digest for clients,” says Steve Schmidt, a partner at Ballast Advisors.  Schmidt makes it clear that the data and graphs from YCharts are meant to provide context, not as investment advice. Past performance should never be used to indicate future results.

“We often hear from our clients during an election cycle,” says Schmidt. “They often have concerns about the impact of an election on their financial plans.”  While every investor is different, Steve Schmidt and the professionals at Ballast Advisors have taken the time to answer three common questions heard from investors during this election

How differently do markets perform when a Democrat or Republican candidate is leading in major polls?

According to trends observed in the data from YCharts, when presidential candidates are “tied” in polling, the S&P 500 daily and cumulative returns are negative. On average, the trends in the YCharts data reveals the market tends to favor a Republican candidate leading the major polls.

“Keep in mind, leads in political polls often vary depending on the source of the poll,” said Schmidt, “polls are not an exact science, and may also have inherit bias depending on the targeted participants of the poll.”

S&P 500 Performance By Party Leading Polls

Two strong examples of this pattern: S&P 500 percent change under poll leaders in the 1988 and 2000 U.S. Presidential elections. See disclosures below.

Does the market react differently when a Republican or Democrat candidate is elected?

Although, historically the market may initially react favorably to a Republican candidate because of the belief that their policies are more “Business friendly” and therefore more stock-market favorable versus Democrat candidates. However, data demonstrates that once a president takes office, in the long run the market has performed better under Democratic presidents on average.

“Today’s economic conditions and thus, market performance, is often a cumulative effect that can be a decade in the making,” Schmidt says. “Today’s economy often stems from the work of both current and previous administrations combined.”

How have other major asset classes performed under recent presidents?

According to YChart data, U.S. and Emerging Market Equities have been among the best performing major asset classes since Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration. In the last 30 years under four different presidents, U.S. and International Equities handily outperformed under Democrats, and Emerging markets have slightly outperformed under the Republican presidents (Performance through Set 14, 2020 for Donald Trump).

“At the end of the day,” Schmidt reminds us, “markets fluctuate for a host of reasons, many of which are misunderstood by seasoned investors.  The best laid investment plan is to stay diversified.”

Summary – What does this mean for you?

What does this mean overall? If you’re basing your investment decisions on what party is or isn’t elected during presidential elections, you’re likely hurting your portfolio more than helping it. The person occupying the White House is  just one of many variables that impact investment values. For example, the Dot.com burst in 2001, and the financial crisis in 2008 greatly impacted the markets beyond the control of Presidents Bush and President Obama.

“At Ballast Advisors, we recommend in the face of uncertainty clients ‘stay invested,’ because almost without exception we’ve accounted for money needed in the near-term,” Schmidt reminds us.  Prominent investor Peter Lynch once said, “Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections, or trying to anticipate corrections, than has been lost in corrections themselves.”  According the chart below, the S&P500 has consistently grown in value, no matter who is in office.

Rather than invest in stocks under only a Republican or Democratic president, stay invested in stocks for the long-term under all presidents. 

Data & Disclaimers

The opinions expressed herein are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC and are subject to change without notice. The third-party material presented is derived from sources Ballast Advisors consider to be reliable, but the accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Ballast Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves some degree of risk. Nothing contained herein is an offer to buy or sell a security, investment strategy or product. More information about the firm, including its services, strategies, and fees can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available without charge upon request.

Historical market performance for the S&P 500 and other asset classes accessed via https://go.ycharts.com/hubfs/Guide_to_How_Presidential_Elections_Impact_the_Stock_Market.pdf

Presidential term dates can be found https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_presidents_of_the_United_States

 Polling sources: 1952-2012 elections: Gallup; 2016-2020 elections: Marist College, Monmouth University, Siena College/The New York Times Upshot, ABC News/The Washington Post ( A+ rated pollsters FiveThirtyEight). How this polling data works: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/pollster-ratings/ How this polling data works: Pollster data sourced from FiveThirty Eight and is good through May 19, 2020. FiveThirtyEight’s pollster ratings are calculated by analyzing the historical accuracy of each firm’s polls along with its methodology. Accuracy scores are adjusted for the type of election polled, the poll’s sample size, the performance of other polls surveying the same race, and other factors. FiveThirtyEight also calculates measures of statistical bias in the polls.

Data was aggregated by YCharts with the end-date of each poll’s collection period serving as the charted poll date.

©2020 YCharts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. YCharts, Inc. (“YCharts”) is not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (or with the securities regulatory authority or body of any state or any other jurisdiction) as an investment adviser, broker-dealer or in any other capacity, and does not purport to provide investment advice or make investment recommendations. This report has been generated through application of the analytical tools and data provided through ycharts.com and is intended solely to assist you or your investment or other adviser(s) in conducting investment research. You should not construe this report as an offer to buy or sell, as a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or as a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or trade, any security or other financial instrument. For further information regarding your use of this report, please go to: ycharts.com/about/disclosure

The S&P 500 index is an unmanaged market-capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stocks chosen for market size, liquidity, and industry group representation to represent U.S. equity performance. The index is provided for comparative and informational purposes only. It is not possible to invest directly in the index shown.

 

4 Questions If You’re Thinking About Retiring to Punta Gorda

If retirement is on your mind, Realtor.com recently ranked Punta Gorda as the number one of the  top 10 hottest retirement spots for baby boomers in the country. In fact, Southwest Florida is one of the fastest growing regions in the country according to data from the US Census Bureau.  Its warm weather, beaches, and lack of state income tax make Punta Gorda a popular choice for retirement.

Here are a few quick tips from Punta Gorda retirement planning professionals in wealth management, estate planning and guardianship management, who offer localized expertise to consider as you solidify your plans for relocation.

Have you reviewed and updated your budget?

Life in Punta Gorda is fun, and retirees tend to live a pretty active lifestyle. It’s a growing community with lots of activities. Downtown Punta Gorda has experienced a revitalization in recent years and offers an increasing number of restaurants, and new things to explore and enjoy.  

Will you join a golf or yacht club, or other social club? Do you foresee dining out more? The Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce has a great directory of things to do.  

“Social memberships are common expenses for retirees,” says Scott Peterson, wealth advisor at Ballast Advisors in Punta Gorda.

“HOA (Homeowner’s Association) fees can be all over the board from $300-$900 month, depending on what type of community you want to live in.  These can be big expenses my clients need to factor in their plan.”

Like moving to any new town, moving to Punta Gorda can mean change in cost of living. Consider this among any new expenses you might have, as well as what you can let go (like that snow removal service) in revising your personal financial plan.

plant growing out of coins with filter effect retro vintage style

Do you understand the tax implications in relocating?

Even with a strong financial plan in place, your move to Punta Gorda could have tax implications you need to consider.

 “Take State income tax for example. Moving to a state, like Florida, that does not have state income tax, can potentially save you thousands of dollars in taxes, “ says Peterson. “Clients moving from a state that does have a significant state income tax, to a state like Florida that does not have state income tax, should adjust their Financial Plan.”

“Hypothetically, say a married couple moves from MN, an income tax state, to FL, a no income tax state, and together will earn a taxable income of $80,000 annually. Moving to FL could potentially save this couple nearly 5K annually or approximately $416 per month based on the 2018 Tax Rates. This extra money could be helpful to pay those extra-curricular expenses that often come along in retirement,” Peterson adds.

Although not having to pay state income tax can potentially save you a lot of money in taxes, there are other things to consider when adjusting your financial plan for a move to a state without income tax. For example, some states without income tax might ask residents to pay more sales tax on groceries, clothes or other goods, or ask homeowners to pay more on their property taxes.

See Related Post: Your Home as a Source of Dollars in Retirement

Who will your support system be?  

As exciting as moving to a new location can be, it also can mean moving away from primary family members who may act as a support system for various things, including emergency situations when someone may need to act on your behalf for finances or health concerns. Many times these responsibilities are given to a spouse or child, however not everyone has or prefers this option. 

“Among retirees in Florida, there are a significant number who gradually lose the capacity to manage finances, make decisions or act in a timely manner to safeguard their own health and welfare, ” says Robin Vazquez of Estate Guardianship and Management Services in Punta Gorda. “It’s critical for retirees to work with their families, financial advisors and/or estate attorneys to appoint representatives for power of attorney, healthcare directives, and  trustees in advance. As a last resort, in Florida the court is empowered to appoint guardians like us for adults who are unable to manage their affairs for their own benefit.”

family spending time at seaside

Have you reviewed your estate plan against Florida laws?

Your will, trust and or estate plan is really an extension of your overall financial plan. The plans you make for your wealth throughout your lifetime and ultimately how it should pass on to the next generation is just as important, and state laws may differ when it comes to your will and your estate plan.

Attorney, Dean Hanewinckel who wrote the book “The Official Snowbirds Guide to Becoming a Florida Resident,” says it’s important to review how Florida laws could impact your estate plan. 

“Florida has very strict and unusual laws regarding the distribution of homestead after a person’s death.  If you are married, and haven’t planned properly, you can only leave the homestead to your spouse. This can wreak havoc on the estate plans of couples in second marriages who only want to leave their estate to their children,” says Hanewinckel.  “This can also cause problems with couples who have set up A-B Trusts to minimize or avoid estate taxes.” 

Taking the extra step to review your previous will, trust, estate plan and power of attorney with an experienced professional to the local area will ensure nothing falls through the cracks in accordance with Florida law.

Planning for Peace

Even though making a large life change like moving and retirement can be a lot to factor, putting a few of these best practices in place (before you need them), will give you peace of mind and you can fully enjoy all Punta Gorda and Charlotte County has to offer.

See Related Link: Retirement planning in Punta Gorda and Southwest Florida

 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

The opinions expressed are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC. The opinions referenced are as of the date of publication and are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions and may not necessarily come to pass.  Ballast Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about the firm, including its services, strategies, and fees can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available without charge upon request. The opinions expressed herein are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC and are subject to change without notice

Changing Jobs? Know Your 401(k) Options

If you’ve lost your job, or are changing jobs, you may be wondering what to do with your 401(k) plan account. It’s important to understand your options.

Originally Published on: Jul 1, 2019

 What will I be entitled to?

If you leave your job (voluntarily or involuntarily), you’ll be entitled to a distribution of your vested balance. Your vested balance always includes your own contributions (pre-tax, after-tax, and Roth) and typically any investment earnings on those amounts. It also includes employer contributions (and earnings) that have satisfied your plan’s vesting schedule.

Nest with eggs labeled with the financial planning terms house, pension, 401K, IRAIn general, you must be 100% vested in your employer’s contributions after 3 years of service (“cliff vesting”), or you must vest gradually, 20% per year until you’re fully vested after 6 years (“graded vesting”). Plans can have faster vesting schedules, and some even have 100% immediate vesting. You’ll also be 100% vested once you’ve reached your plan’s normal retirement age.

It’s important for you to understand how your particular plan’s vesting schedule works, because you’ll forfeit any employer contributions that haven’t vested by the time you leave your job. Your summary plan description (SPD) will spell out how the vesting schedule for your particular plan works. If you don’t have one, ask your plan administrator for it. If you’re on the cusp of vesting, it may make sense to wait a bit before leaving, if you have that luxury.

Don’t spend it

While this pool of dollars may look attractive, don’t spend it unless you absolutely need to. If you take a distribution you’ll be taxed, at ordinary income tax rates, on the entire value of your account except for any after-tax or Roth 401(k) contributions you’ve made. And, if you’re not yet age 55, an additional 10% penalty may apply to the taxable portion of your payout. (Special rules may apply if you receive a lump-sum distribution and you were born before 1936, or if the lump-sum includes employer stock.)

If your vested balance is more than $5,000, you can leave your money in your employer’s plan at least until you reach the plan’s normal retirement age (typically age 65). But your employer must also allow you to make a direct rollover to an IRA or to another employer’s 401(k) plan. As the name suggests, in a direct rollover the money passes directly from your 401(k) plan account to the IRA or other plan. This is preferable to a “60-day rollover,” where you get the check and then roll the money over yourself, because your employer has to withhold 20% of the taxable portion of a 60-day rollover. You can still roll over the entire amount of your distribution, but you’ll need to come up with the 20% that’s been withheld until you recapture that amount when you file your income tax return.

Should I roll over to my new employer’s 401(k) plan or to an IRA?

Assuming both options are available to you, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. There are strong arguments to be made on both sides. You need to weigh all of the factors, and make a decision based on your own needs and priorities. It’s best to have a professional assist you with this, since the decision you make may have significant consequences — both now and in the future.

Reasons to consider rolling over to an IRA:

  • You generally have more investment choices with an IRA than with an employer’s 401(k) plan. You typically may freely move your money around to the various investments offered by your IRA trustee, and you may divide up your balance among as many of those investments as you want. By contrast, employer-sponsored plans generally offer a limited menu of investments (usually mutual funds) from which to choose.

 

  • You can freely allocate your IRA dollars among different IRA trustees/custodians. There’s no limit on how many direct, trustee-to-trustee IRA transfers you can do in a year. This gives you flexibility to change trustees often if you are dissatisfied with investment performance or customer service. It can also allow you to have IRA accounts with more than one institution for added diversification. With an employer’s plan, you can’t move the funds to a different trustee unless you leave your job and roll over the funds
  • An IRA may give you more flexibility with distributions. Your distribution options in a 401(k) plan depend on the terms of that particular plan, and your options may be limited. However, with an IRA, the timing and amount of distributions is generally at your discretion (until you reach age 70½ and must start taking required minimum distributions in the case of a traditional IRA).

 

  • You can roll over (essentially “convert”) your 401(k) plan distribution to a Roth IRA. You’ll generally have to pay taxes on the amount you roll over (minus any after-tax contributions you’ve made), but any qualified distributions from the Roth IRA in the future will be tax free.

Reasons to consider rolling over to your new employer’s 401(k) plan (or stay in your current plan):

 

  • Many employer-sponsored plans have loan provisions. If you roll over your retirement funds to a new employer’s plan that permits loans, you may be able to borrow up to 50% of the amount you roll over if you need the money. You can’t borrow from an IRA — you can only access the money in an IRA by taking a distribution, which may be subject to income tax and penalties. (You can give yourself a short-term loan from an IRA by taking a distribution, and then rolling the dollars back to an IRA within 60 days; however, this move is permitted only once in any 12-month time period.)

 

  • Employer retirement plans generally provide greater creditor protection than IRAs. Most 401(k) plans receive unlimited protection from your creditors under federal law. Your creditors (with certain exceptions) cannot attach your plan funds to satisfy any of your debts and obligations, regardless of whether you’ve declared bankruptcy. In contrast, any amounts you roll over to a traditional or Roth IRA are generally protected under federal law only if you declare bankruptcy. Any creditor protection your IRA may receive in cases outside of bankruptcy will generally depend on the laws of your particular state. If you are concerned about asset protection, be sure to seek the assistance of a qualified professional.
  • You may be able to postpone required minimum distributions. For traditional IRAs, these distributions must begin by April 1 following the year you reach age 70½. However, if you work past that age and are still participating in your employer’s 401(k) plan, you can delay your first distribution from that plan until April 1 following the year of your retirement. (You also must own no more than 5% of the company.)

 

  • If your distribution includes Roth 401(k) contributions and earnings, you can roll those amounts over to either a Roth IRA or your new employer’s Roth 401(k) plan (if it accepts rollovers). If you roll the funds over to a Roth IRA, the Roth IRA holding period will determine when you can begin receiving tax-free qualified distributions from the IRA. So if you’re establishing a Roth IRA for the first time, your Roth 401(k) dollars will be subject to a brand new five-year holding period. On the other hand, if you roll the dollars over to your new employer’s Roth 401 (k) plan, your existing five-year holding period will carry over to the new plan. This may enable you to receive tax-free qualified distributions sooner.

When evaluating whether to initiate a rollover always be sure to (1) ask about possible surrender charges that may be imposed by your employer plan, or new surrender charges that your IRA may impose, (2) compare investment fees and expenses charged by your IRA (and investment funds) with those charged by your employer plan (if any), and (3) understand any accumulated rights or guarantees that you may be giving up by transferring funds out of your employer plan.

What about outstanding plan loans?

In general, if you have an outstanding plan loan, you’ll need to pay it back, or the outstanding balance will be taxed as if it had been distributed to you in cash. If you can’t pay the loan back before you leave, you’ll still have 60 days to roll over the amount that’s been treated as a distribution to your IRA. Of course, you’ll need to come up with the dollars from other sources.


Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2019

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice

If you’re interested in receiving additional financial advice, contact Ballast Advisors for a complimentary consultation at a location near you:

Ballast Advisors – Woodbury

683 Bielenberg Dr., Suite 208
Woodbury, MN  55125-1705
Tel: 651.478.4644

 Ballast Advisors – Arden Hills

3820 Cleveland Ave. N, Ste. 500
Arden Hills, MN  55112-3298
Tel: 651.200.3100

 Ballast Advisors – Punta Gorda 

223 Taylor St., Suite 1214
Punta Gorda, FL  33950-3901
Tel: 941.621.4015

Rollovers

Nest with eggs labeled with the financial planning terms house, pension, 401K, IRA

When evaluating whether to initiate a rollover always be sure to

(1) ask about possible surrender charges that may be imposed by your employer plan, or new surrender charges that your IRA may impose,

(2) compare investment fees and expenses charged by your IRA (and investment funds) with those charged by your employer plan (if any), and

(3) understand any accumulated rights or guarantees that you may be giving up by transferring funds out of your employer plan.

*SEP and SIMPLE IRAs are not included in or subject to this limit and are fully protected under federal law if you declare bankruptcy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use this rollover guide to help you decide where you can move your retirement dollars. A financial professional can also help you navigate the rollover waters. Keep in mind that employer plans are not legally required to accept rollovers. Review your plan document.

Some distributions can’t be rolled over, including:

• Required minimum distributions (to be taken after you reach age 70½ or, in some cases, after you retire)

• Certain annuity or installment payments

• Hardship withdrawals

• Corrective distributions of excess contributions and deferrals

 A rollover is the movement of funds from one retirement savings vehicle to another. You may want to make a rollover for any number of reasons — your employment situation has changed, you want to switch investments, or you’ve received death benefits from your spouse’s retirement plan.

There are two possible ways that retirement funds can be rolled over — the indirect (60-day) rollover and the direct rollover (or trustee-to-trustee transfer).

The indirect, or 60-day, rollover

With this method, you actually receive a distribution from your retirement plan and then, to complete the transaction, you deposit the funds into the new retirement plan account or IRA. You can make a rollover at any age, but there are specific rules that must be followed. Most importantly, you must generally complete the rollover within 60 days of the date the funds are paid from the distributing plan.

If properly completed, rollovers aren’t subject to income tax. But if you fail to complete the rollover or miss the 60-day deadline, all or part of your distribution may be taxed, and subject to a 10% early distribution penalty (unless you’re age 59½ or another exception applies).

Further, if you receive a distribution from an employer retirement plan, your employer must withhold 20% of the payment for taxes. This means that if you want to roll over the entire distribution amount (and avoid taxes and possible penalties on the amount withheld), you’ll need to come up with that extra 20% from other funds. You’ll be able to recover the withheld amount when you file your tax return.

The direct rollover, or trustee-to-trustee transfer

The second type of rollover transaction occurs directly between the trustee or custodian of your old retirement plan, and the trustee or custodian of your new plan or IRA. You never actually receive the funds or have control of them, so a trustee-to-trustee transfer is not treated as a distribution. Direct rollovers avoid both the danger of missing the 60-day deadline and the 20% withholding problem.

If you stand to receive a distribution from your employer’s plan that’s eligible for rollover, your employer must give you the option of making a direct rollover to another employer plan or IRA.

A trustee-to-trustee transfer is generally the most efficient way to move retirement funds. Taking a distribution yourself and rolling it over may make sense only if you need to use the funds temporarily, and are certain you can roll over the full amount within 60 days.

Should you consider a rollover?

In general, if your vested balance is more than $5,000, you can keep your money in an employer’s plan at least until you reach the plan’s normal retirement age (typically age 65). But if you terminate employment before then, should you consider a rollover to either an IRA or a new employer’s plan? There are pros and cons to each move.

IRA: In contrast to an employer plan, where investment options are typically limited to those selected by the employer, the universe of IRA investments is almost unlimited. Similarly, the distribution options in an IRA (especially for your beneficiary following your death) may be more flexible than the options available in your employer’s plan.

New employer’s plan: On the other hand, employer-sponsored plans may offer better creditor protection. In general, federal law protects IRA assets up to $1,283,025 (scheduled to increase on April 1, 2019) — plus any amount rolled over from a qualified employer plan or 403(b) plan — if bankruptcy is declared.* (The laws in your state may provide additional protection.) In contrast, assets in a qualified employer plan or 403(b) plan generally receive unlimited protection from creditors under federal law, regardless of whether bankruptcy is declared.

 

Use this rollover guide to help you decide where you can move your retirement dollars.
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2019

1 Required distributions and nonspousal death benefits can’t be rolled over.

2 In general, you can make only one tax-free, 60-day, rollover from one IRA to another IRA in any 12-month period no matter how many IRAs (traditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE) you own. This does not apply to direct (trustee-to-trustee) transfers, or Roth IRA conversions.
3 Taxable conversion
4 Nontaxable conversion
5 Only after employee has participated in SIMPLE IRA plan for two years.
6 Required distributions, certain periodic payments, hardship distributions, corrective distributions, and certain other payments cannot be rolled over; nonspousal death benefits can be rolled over only to an inherited IRA, and only in a direct rollover.
7 May result in loss of qualified plan lump-sum averaging and capital gain treatment.
8 Direct (trustee-to-trustee) rollover only; receiving plan must separately account for the after-tax contributions and earnings.
9 457(b) plan must separately account for rollover — 10% penalty on payout may apply.
10 Nontaxable dollars may be transferred only in a direct (trustee-to-trustee) rollover.
11 Taxable dollars included in income in the year rolled over. 12 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) plans can also allow participants to directly transfer non-Roth funds to a Roth account if certain requirements are met (taxable conversion).

 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.


If you’re interested in receiving additional financial advice, contact Ballast Advisors for a complimentary consultation at a location near you:

Ballast Advisors – Woodbury

683 Bielenberg Dr., Suite 208
Woodbury, MN  55125-1705
Tel: 651.478.4644

Ballast Advisors – Arden Hills

3820 Cleveland Ave. N, Ste. 500
Arden Hills, MN  55112-3298
Tel: 651.200.3100

 Ballast Advisors – Punta Gorda 

223 Taylor St., Suite 1214
Punta Gorda, FL  33950-3901
Tel: 941.621.4015

How to Roll Over Your Employer Retirement Plan Assets

 

infographic on How to Roll Over Your Employer Retirement Plan Assets
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2019

1 There are two major disadvantages to indirect rollovers. First, your plan is required to withhold 20% of the taxable portion of your payment for federal income taxes. You’ll get credit for that amount when you file your federal income tax return, but if you want to roll over the entire distribution, you’ll have to come up with the 20% that was withheld from other sources. Second, you run the risk of missing the 60-day deadline, which would make your distribution taxable. On the plus side, you’ll have use of the funds for up to 60 days. In general, direct rollovers are the safer choice.

2 You cannot roll over hardship withdrawals, required minimum distributions, substantially equal periodic payments, corrective distributions, and certain other payments. Nonspousal death benefits can be rolled over only to an inherited IRA, and only in a direct rollover or trustee-to-trustee transfer. You may have the option of leaving your funds in your employer’s plan — consult your plan’s terms.

3 You do not need to set up a special “Rollover IRA” account (sometimes called a “conduit IRA”) to receive your rollover, although some financial firms may require that you do so at least initially. (You can always transfer the funds to a different IRA account later.) While not required, in some cases a separate rollover IRA may be helpful if: (a) you think you may want to roll the taxable portion of your distribution back to an employer plan at some future date, or (b) you’re concerned about protection from creditors, as funds rolled over from an employer plan (and any earnings on those funds) generally receive unlimited protection under federal law if you declare bankruptcy.

4 The IRS may waive the 60-day requirement where the failure to do so would be against equity or good conscience, such as in the event of a casualty, disaster, or other event beyond your reasonable control. There are three ways to obtain a waiver of the 60-day rollover requirement: (a) you qualify for an automatic waiver, (b) you self-certify that you met the requirements of a waiver, or (c) you request and receive a private letter ruling granting a waiver. Consult a tax professional. Note: If you receive employer stock or other securities as part of your distribution be sure to understand the tax consequences before making a rollover to an IRA. Your distribution may be entitled to favorable net unrealized appreciation (NUA) tax rules. Consult a tax professional.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2019

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

If you’re interested in receiving additional financial advice, contact Ballast Advisors for a complimentary consultation at a location near you:

Ballast Advisors – Woodbury

683 Bielenberg Dr., Suite 208
Woodbury, MN  55125-1705
Tel: 651.478.4644

 Ballast Advisors – Arden Hills

3820 Cleveland Ave. N, Ste. 500
Arden Hills, MN  55112-3298
Tel: 651.200.3100

 Ballast Advisors – Punta Gorda 

223 Taylor St., Suite 1214
Punta Gorda, FL  33950-3901
Tel: 941.621.4015

 

I’m about to get married. Should I adjust my 401(k) asset allocation?

I’m about to get married. Should I adjust the asset allocation in my 401(k) to take my spouse’s investments into account?

That depends on several factors. Perhaps the first step is to make sure your existing asset allocation is appropriate for your circumstances; if you haven’t reviewed it in several years, you should probably take a fresh look at it, whether or not you intend to consider your spouse’s assets in your investing strategy. Assuming your allocation is appropriate for your current situation, you may want to make sure that any overlap between your accounts doesn’t create a portfolio that’s too heavily concentrated in a single position. For example, if you have received company stock as part of your compensation plan for many years, you might not have enough diversity in your portfolio; if both of you have worked at the same employer, the problem could be even worse.

However, you don’t necessarily need to make dramatic changes right away. No matter how compatible you might be, marriages have been known to fail, and sometimes they fail in a shorter time frame than anyone ever expected. If you do decide to make adjustments, remember that you can phase them in gradually to create an asset allocation strategy that includes both portfolios. For example, you might decide to simply allocate new money to a different investment or asset class rather than shift existing assets.

Explain to your spouse why you’ve chosen to invest as you have; you may have a perspective he or she has overlooked or information he or she hasn’t considered that could be helpful even if you manage your portfolios entirely independently. And since it’s your account, you have the final say. If there’s a difference in your investing philosophies, a neutral third party with some expertise and a dispassionate view of the situation may be able to help work through differences; that can be especially valuable in cases where substantial assets are at stake.

Related Post: Merging Your Money When You Marry

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2019
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

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